Dec 8, 2021 - Economy

Banks celebrate

An illustration showing a $100 bill and birthday balloons.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Christmas came early for banks this year: Biden's pick to lead a key regulator backed out.

Driving the news: Saule Omarova, tapped to lead the Office of the Comptroller for Currency, faced an uphill battle in Washington — but the strongest pushback may have been from the banks themselves.

Catch up quick: Rarely do banks’ powerful trade groups publicly campaign against a regulator pick and do so with such a united front as they did with Omarova.

  • Now at least one of those groups is taking a public victory lap.

What they’re saying: Omarova’s withdrawal following opposition “exhibits the importance of community banks to Main Street communities and local economic growth,” the Independent Community Bankers of America said last night.

  • The group, whose members mostly aren’t regulated by the OCC, also laid out why it took the “rare step” of pushing back — namely, an academic paper in which Omarova floated that the government provide consumer banking services via the Fed. (Omarova wouldn’t have had the authority to do that as OCC head.)

The bottom line: The OCC — which supervises banks whose assets make up two-thirds of the banking system — hasn't had a permanent head since May 2020.

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